Home' The Backwoodsman Magazine : Jan-Feb 2019 Contents the weekends in order to produce a
few here and there to sell at markets.
Hang with me a minute: I promise
all this back story ties in to the left
The Left Turn
In January, 2010, my wife was
diagnosed with cancer. Now, I know
I am not the only guy to ever have
to deal with this, but when you find
yourself in this situation it is life
altering. My wife is my best friend
and, as a result, I was going to do ev-
erything necessary to help take care
of her. Fortunately her cancer was
non-aggressive, and it looked like
there were going to be no immediate
Then came 2016. The cancer
reared its ugly head that summer.
It had become aggressive and a
lengthy chemo process was neces-
sary. We planned to start that in Jan-
uary, 2017, and it would run through
July of that year. Upon hearing of
this, the small company I worked
for became worried that this treat-
ment would increase the cost of
health care on their end, so a week
before Christmas, two weeks before
the start of her treatments, we parted
ways. I knew I was going to need to
be with her over the coming months,
so I made the biggest left turn of my
life and walked away from my ca-
reer, and much of the modern world.
Hours were now available sitting
in a hospital room to ponder this left
turn and figure out what to do next.
In an effort to keep my mind active
I carried books by folks like Ness-
muk and Kephart, and old copies of
Backwoodsman with me, and did
a great deal of reading as I am just
not a television kind of guy. Still,
as the hours passed, I had to break
away from time to time. My usual
solace is found in woods and water,
but now it was being found in the
upper level of a parking structure
overlooking the Nashville horizon.
I guess when you have to get away,
you have to get away, and many
times just a quite, lonely place with
a view is all that is required. Or will
just have to do.
During these brief getaways, be-
cause I now had time to put things
in perspective, I reflected on those
aforementioned crafts and hobbies
like knife making and woodwork.
Then I thought even further back to
all those years growing up in a self
reliant environment where you de-
pended on yourself and developed
the skills and knowledge to take
care of challenges life throws at you.
Now, due to this major left turn and
the subsequent small left turns that
followed, the vision was clear. Step
as far back from this modern world
as possible, go back to self reliant
living, and live the life I believe we
were meant to live. Sounds simple,
Once word got out I had left that
company the phone started ringing.
Competitors and recruiters were
pitching some sweet deals my way.
I had no interest. By this stage of my
life I think I had finally had enough.
Enough stress, enough frustration,
enough government intervention
into my life, enough OPBS (other
people’s bulls—t. Yep, I coined
that term during this time), and was
ready to take a shot at doing things
my way. This would mean getting
off “the wheel” and forging my own
path. My choice with this left turn
flies in the face of conventional wis-
dom but, then again, I have never
been very conventional anyway, so
I was ok with that.
During the first couple months of
2017 I started gathering equipment.
Nothing serious, just a small wood
lathe, a few small belt grinders,
and other wood/metal working ma-
chines. Nothing expensive, basically
bargain basement priced entry level
stuff, along with a good assortment
of hand tools in addition to what I
already had. Then I built a forge and
invested into some leather work-
ing tools and supplies. I realized we
needed a place to put all this stuff so
we transformed our small detached
garage into a workshop and the stor-
age room into a tack shop. I still did
Just a few examples of my work.
Leather pouches, muzzleloader accou-
trements like ball starters and bullet
lube, and many other old world items.
This is a massive turn away from the
dog eat dog corporate world.
A few of the accoutrements I cur-
rently make for our local Farmers
Markets and craft/artisan fairs here in
the southeast. This endeavor is a long
way from selling robots and industrial
equipment, but there is great satisfac-
tion in handcrafting historical items.
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